Diplomat presents credentials to pope

Sat, May 5, 2012, 01:00

NEW AMBASSADOR:THE DEVELOPMENTS in Cardinal Brady’s situation came on a historic day for Vatican-Irish relations yesterday.

The secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, David Cooney, presented his diplomatic credentials to Pope Benedict as Ireland’s new, non-resident Ambassador to the Holy See.

The Holy See likes to make a point about the status of “non-resident” ambassadors by signing them on just twice a year, and in a job lot.

Thus, Mr Cooney was yesterday joined by the new, non-resident ambassadors for Armenia, Ethiopia, Fiji and Malaysia.

Despite that, Mr Cooney said he had received a “very warm welcome” at the Holy See, adding: “Everyone I spoke to today and throughout the week spoke very positively about the relationship between Ireland and the Holy See.”

The new Ambassador had but a very brief exchange with Pope Benedict. He said that the Cardinal Brady question had not been addressed.

After the credentials ceremony, however, Mr Cooney met at length with the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

During a 20-minute conversation, the two men discussed many aspects of Holy See-Ireland relations, although not the current controversy surrounding Cardinal Brady. Mr Cooney explained that the decision to close the permanent Irish embassy to the Holy See last year had been taken primarily within the context of a cost-cutting operation in a time of recession.

The Ambassador expressed the hope that Ireland would one day open up a new permanent embassy to the Holy See “but on a much more modest basis”.